Thursday, 25 September 2014

Angela Duffy, RIP

Angela Duffy, 1927 - 2014
We buried my mother-in-law today, Angela Duffy. She was a kind, humble Irish woman who was fiercely proud of her children and grand-children. Rest in peace Angela.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Planning Ahead For Adult Social Care In Reading

Guest Blog by Cllr Rachel Eden, Leader Member for Adult Social Care


Until we get a government that plans for the next 10 years instead of the next 10 months councils with responsibility for adult social care are in a bind.

The need to balance rising demand from demographic changes and cuts in government spending is not a palatable one.  Especially for anyone who is totally committed to high quality care.  Over the last several months Labour councillors have been working with council officers, users and community groups to form a strategy that can start to deliver a vision for a Reading where more people can thrive as part of the community and people are kept safe despite the constraints we face.

On Monday I'll be asking the council's policy committee to support a new Adult Social Care Strategy. The strategy promotes wellbeing, independent living at home (with a corresponding shift away from residential and nursing care unless required) and developing neighbourhood based services, working alongside local GPs.

The Tories are utterly failing to resolve the issues we face, and doing nothing to build a better system for adult social care - the national problems with the better care fund, that Reading has managed to salvage something from is testament to that.

Council press release
A MAJOR package of savings and income proposals will be considered by a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee on Monday September 22nd.
The amount of money Reading receives from Central Government has been cut year on year since 2010. In addition, Reading’s population has grown by 9% since 2001 and now stands at 159,200 people.
The combination of cuts in Government funding and increased demands on key Council services - such as providing school places and caring for older people - means the Council now needs to save an estimated £25 million between 2015 and 2018.
Reading Borough Council has already made savings totalling £45 million since 2010. This includes reducing its workforce by 622 posts and cutting many senior management posts.
Until now the Council has minimised the impact on frontline services as far as possible.
The scale of savings still necessary however, means that proposals are now coming forward which will increasingly have a direct effect on the services the Council provides to residents and businesses.
A series of Policy Committee reports published outline a number of new savings and income proposals. They include:
• A new Adult Social Care Strategy which balances rising demographic demand and spending reductions, with a commitment to providing the highest quality of care for people who need it. The strategy promotes wellbeing, independent living at home (with a corresponding shift away from residential and nursing care unless required) and developing neighbourhood based services, working alongside local GPs.
• Education proposals where the Council focuses on the achievement, both academically and personally, of every young person in the Reading. The strategy will build sustainable activity within schools; develop further the capacity for good schools to support others to raise standards; and challenge all schools to ensure that every child is making good progress in school.
• Reducing the Council’s Call Centre hours to 9am to 5pm Monday – Friday (currently 8am to 6pm). At the same time reducing Customer Hub opening hours to 9am to 5pm Monday - Friday (currently 9am – 6pm Thursday). Changes would come into effect on November 1st alongside the introduction of a new Customer Care handbook, reflecting longer response times in light of reduced Council resources.
Taken together, the proposals deliver total savings of £8.67million out of the £25 million required over 2015-18.
Reading Borough Council Leader Jo Lovelock said:
“Year on year cuts in the money Reading receives from Central Government, together with the rising population of Reading, are placing an inevitable strain on Council resources. This Council has already made £45 million in savings since 2010 and we now need to find £25 million more over the next three year period.
“The process of identifying savings has been far from easy. The approach in Reading has been to find better and more efficient ways of working and - where possible - we have tried to avoid impacting on the frontline services we deliver. We are now at the point where we no longer have any choice but to make some of the difficult decisions which will undoubtedly have an effect on those services.
“If agreed, the proposals being considered later this month deliver £8.7 million in savings out of the £25million we need to find over the next three years. That clearly illustrates the scale of the task in front of us. The size of the budget challenge means we are bringing forward saving proposals early this year, with a further round necessary for February. Depending on Government funding settlements in future years, we may be faced with even more difficult decisions in the future.”
The various savings and income proposals are split over a number of reports going to a meeting of the Council’s Policy Committee 22nd September.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Why I Want To See A Yes Vote In Scotland Today

From today's Independent newspaper


The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews will vote on today whether to finally allow women members, 260 years after it was founded.


A spokesman for The Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews said: "The club is balloting its members on a change to its membership rules that would enable it to welcome women members.

"Over 2,400 ballot papers have been sent out and the vote is independently scrutinised by Electoral Reform Services. A simple majority is required to effect the proposed change. Should the outcome be in favour of welcoming women members the decision will take immediate effect."

My comment: The Open Championship should never again be played at any club which does not have membership open to all.